Monday, July 15, 2013

Three principles in which the members of the body of Christ have unity

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 23 June 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation

Passage: John 17:24-26
People believe when they see Christ's glory, when they hear His Word and when we testify Christ (obeying His commands).

There are three principles in which we have unity:
1.) in the Name of the Lord
- He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of rightousness for His Name's sake. (Psalm 23:3)
- It is easy to walk with those also walks in paths of righteousness.

2.) in His Word
- we who have heard His Word and believe will be in unity with future or faraway believers who hear and believe His Word (John 17:20)
3.) in the glory of God
- this glory is not like sparkling jewellery
- this glory is that upon the Cross
- when Jesus manifested the glory of God, He did not make use of splendor from any physical material. Neither was it measured by valuable things in human terms.
- Jesus Christ's glory is the splendor displayed by God's holiness, love, compassion, justice, demonstrated in the Cross.
- So, we sing "In the Cross, In the Cross, be my glory ever"

Jesus was born under a most humble circumstance: in a smelly manger. Even approaching His death, His inner garments had been taken away from them. Jesus hung shamefully on the cross. Thanks be to God! This, then, is the glory of God! One who truly sees the glory of the cross will surely bow before Jesus Christ. Then will you realize that there is no meaning in all the splendor of the world.
The glory of our Lord exists before the creation of the world. It means that it has nothing to do with physical materials as there has been no such things (e.g. pearl, diamond, gold or jade) before the Creation. "Father, I have given them the glory that you gave me," (Jn 17:22) and this glory is what Jesus had with the Father before the world began (Jn 17:5).
There were two robbers beside Jesus when He was crucified. For the one who was saved, his entire life was transformed at a single sentence by Christ. Prior to this, he was mocking at Jesus along with the other robber. But Jesus suddenly said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) The robber is noble and intelligent, immediately understanding Christianity by that one statement, unlike so many who has heard millions but have yet to be saved. He immediately understood and repented and said to Jesus to remember him when He come into His kingdom (Lk 23:42). Because he recognizes, from Jesus' statement, that He is the King of the heavens, the Saviour who forgives sins, the King who will judge the world and will receive a Kingdom which is eternal and is greater than the Roman empire. Based on Jesus' statement, the robber's theological standpoint was completely built up and the structure of his faith strengthened.
Who is the Jesus whom the robber saw? He did not merely see Him as crucified, covered with wounds, suffering tremendously, helpless in saving Himself. Rather, he saw glory from suffering, wisdom from folly, great power from infirmity, future honour from shame of the world. This is faith. Faith is not to believe in God only after seeing His glory. Faith is to see the essence of glory hidden behind the external appearance of suffering.
The robber's faith is greater than that of the apostles Paul and Peter. The latter placed their faith in the Lord only after they witness his miracles and glory. But this robber did not get to see the miracles of Jesus on the cross or to hear any of His theological theories. He only heard that one statement and know Jesus as Saviour, King, future Judge and he saw the glory of God. So Jesus Christ said "I have given them the glory that you gave me, make them one in this glory."
We are one in the Name, the Word and the glory of the Lord.
Rev Tong does not consider love as a principle for oneness, but rather sees love as a method to achieve oneness in His Name, His Word and His glory. Because of love, we are one. This is God's method. We are able to love one another because the Holy Spirit has poured out God's love into our hearts. Jesus prayed that we may be one as God is one (Jn 17:22b).

Why did Jesus pray for us to be one? So that the world may know that the Father has sent the Son.This is the great goal at the end of His prayer. Also, He pray that we may be one so that we may know that the Father loves the Son just as the Son loves us. And so, the two final great goals: that the entire world knows that it is the Father who sent Jesus Christ, and that the whole world will know that the Father loves the Son and the Son loves those who belong to Him. Never has there been anyone who dares say that he is sent by the Father, because human can only say they have been sent by God and will not dare to say that the Father has sent him. Confucius has never said that God has sent him and that the Chinese should listen to him. Neither has Laozi said that God has sent him and that we should read his scripture. Neither has Shakyamuni said that God has sent him to become a buddha to teach us. Neither have Hinduism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Persian religion all said this. But prophet Muhammad has said that God has sent him, and that we should recite that Muhammad is apostle, that God is the only one God, and that Muhammad is an apostle sent personally by God. He dare to say that he has been sent by God, unlike most religions which do not dare say so. But that does not mean that he is right.
But, did not Jesus also say such a thing? The difference is that He used 'Father', not 'God'. How intimate is the relationship between the Son and the Father! Jesus is the only one in history who said 'the Father sent me'.
Both the One who has been sent and the Sender have the same essence. Hence, they must also have the same moral ethics.
Therefore, if the Father is holy, the Son should be holy. If the Father is merciful, the Son should be merciful. If the Father is just, the Son should be just.

May the only One in the entire world, who had been sent by God, become the Saviour, Lord, Mediator. the Great Shepherd of the flock, the only Great High Priest between God and men. Only Jesus Christ. He said, "Righteous Father, the world know you have sent Me. I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me ... before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, ... be in them." (Jn 17:24-25)
The church is united in His Name, His Word and His glory, the glory on the suffering cross. This is the true unity in the church, not organizational or administrative or in form or superficial, but oneness in the Spirit.
And the people will then see two things:
1.) The believers have shown that God has sent Christ, because what we have preached to them is the cross of Jesus Christ, the salvation of the Son of God. This must be true.
2.) Because of our unity, the people realize that there is true love among the believers, love caused the believers to be in unity. They manifest the love of God.
"Father, let the world know that You have sent Me (Jesus), and that I have already given them the love You have for Me."


Post a Comment

<< Home